Data, analytics and cloud top Irish business tech priorities

Irish organisations believe data and analytics and cloud technologies will deliver most value over the next two years.

The latest EY Tech Horizon Report, which explores how the intersection of technology and transformation can address key global challenges facing senior technology leaders, found that 50% of Irish respondents believe cloud technologies will deliver the most value to their business over the next 24 months, followed closely by data and analytics at 46%.

When asked to describe the specific value that could be derived from becoming more data centric, Irish businesses believed it to be multi-faceted, with respondents seeing it as a way to better understand rapidly changing customer behaviour, as well as identifying supply chain issues more quickly.

“Data as we know, is the currency of the digital economy so the quicker Irish businesses capitalise on it, the more competitive and attractive they will be to customers, employees and partners”

When an organisation is data-centric, the insights that can be derived have the potential to inform major strategy decisions such as new market entry plans, product development, as well as pre-empting future supply chain disruptions.

Informed decision making

“The fact that Irish companies have recognised cloud, together with data and analytics, as those technologies most likely to deliver value is really interesting,” said John Ward, EY Ireland Partner, Head of Digital and Emerging Technology.

“Over the past three years, companies have seen first-hand the transformative impact real-time access to data can play on major sectors such as healthcare as witnessed through the pandemic.

“Other sectors, such as the energy sector, are harnessing the vast power of data led innovation as they, for example, utilise machine learning models to predict the energy generated by wind farms. The ability to aggregate broad datasets and to run models effectively demands a cloud platform. We see cloud, together with data and analytics, as having a symbiotic relationship and Irish companies need to consider both as they strive to keep pace with their global peers.”

While 20% of Irish respondents said they had completed or achieved their digital transformation objectives (compared to 13% globally), 64% of Irish companies have only recently embarked on, or are in the midst of, their transformation journeys.

As called out in the findings, Irish businesses believe that a supportive leadership culture, more seamless integration of data across processes and systems, together with bridging the talent gap will be critical to the effectiveness of Irish companies’ digital transformation journeys into the future.

It may be no surprise then that the Irish data compiled as part of the report identified complexities relating to these areas as potential obstacles to their digital transformation plans, with connecting or integrating multiple systems cited as the top challenge for 36% of Irish respondents, followed by complexities relating to establishing and managing corporate partnerships and ecosystems (34%).

The war for talent

Skills gaps and talent retention also remain a key issue for organisations implementing their digital transformation strategies, with 54% of respondents citing difficulties related to retaining existing skilled talent.

“Given data is central to digital transformation plans in meeting changing customer demands and reducing costs, leadership from the top down need to back data initiatives,” commented Eoin O’Reilly, EY Ireland Partner, Head of Data and Analytics.

“Organisations seeking to reap the rewards of data centricity must develop a vision and strategy that aligns with the business’ overall strategic goals and which everyone in the organisation from the board and C-suite down can buy into. Being a data-led organisation that embraces digital transformation may also help attract and retain existing talent which we know is so important.”

Beyond cloud and data and into the Metaverse

It is important to note that the emphasis on cloud investment and data analytics is not viewed in isolation to the adoption of other emerging technologies.

Additional technologies prioritised for investment in Ireland include the Internet of Things (IoT) at 48% compared to 42% globally, and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at 46% which is ahead of the global average at 35%. These findings may account for Ireland’s overall maturity when it comes to digital transformation compared to their global counterparts.

The sheer scale and volume of the data created by organisations today can create challenges to their ambitions to become data centric,  however the cloud offers the capacity and tools to overcome those challenges.

Public cloud services can scale to match the growth in data volumes and they also offer the platform and modern tools to collect and collate data from different sources and provide the technological foundation to become data centric.

“Cloud technologies offer a transformational opportunity for businesses to accelerate their journeys to data centricity,” said John Ward. “Data can be quickly assimilated from lots of systems – new and legacy – and analytics products can be built rapidly to turn raw data into insights for business decision makers. Cloud also offers the capability to easily integrate data and real time analytics into digital applications. The fact that Irish business recognise the importance of the cloud suggests they are focused on building the technology foundations and accelerating their migration to the cloud as an enabler of data centricity.

“Data as we know, is the currency of the digital economy so the quicker Irish businesses capitalise on it, the more competitive and attractive they will be to customers, employees and partners,” Ward concluded.

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.